Who Was the Real St. Valentine?

Many early Christian martyrs were named Valentine, which can make it confusing when trying to figure out just who is being honored on Valentine’s Day.

While there might be many martyrs named Valentine, the two honored on Valentine’s Day are Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. The former was a Roman priest who was martyred in roughly 269 AD, while the latter was bishop of what is now Terni who was martyred in 197 AD. It was not until the 14th century that any of today’s popular romantic elements began to take shape when celebrating Valentine’s Day.

As a result of those new developments, the distinctions between Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni were gradually lost, eventually prompting the feast of St. Valentine on February 14 to be removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969.

Updated 01-13-2011

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